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December 15, 1999
Cold Turkeys at Desi Box Office
Arthur J Pais
With Hum Saath Saath Hain fading fast -- it grossed $ 40,000 last weekend in America and about $ 38,000 in Britain -- and Thakshak not shaping into a hit, exhibitors on both sides of the Atlantic are praying for a Christmas miracle.
The Christmas and New Year weekends generate huge numbers for mainstream movies but will there be a box-office swell for desi movies? Several exhibitors said that unless there is a big movie, say, something like Pukar, which will not open this year, the box-office will remain nearly dead. The Ramadan season is also eating into the box-office as Bangladeshis and Pakistanis form a sizeable part of the desi movie audience.
The distributors of Thakshak have not released the box-office figures for the second week. At the end of the first weekend, a spokesperson for the distributor said the company was not reporting the gross to the newspapers because a film's box-office cannot be judged by the weekend figures.
But the spokesperson still claimed the film had done well, and when a reporter asked if the film had grossed $ 100,000, he answered in the affirmative.
But others distributors speculate that the movie has done disappointing business, and they believe since it was touted as a high profile, prestigious movie, its distributor decided not to release the grosses.
Hum Saath-Saath Hain, which is crawling towards the $ 2 million mark in America, should be in movie houses for two more weeks in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has grossed about $ 820,000 across the latter, with its combined box-office reaching $ 2.75 million. Its chances of reaching the $ 3 million benchmark seems slight.
In the United Kingdom, Manoj Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense was pushed to the third position as the newcomers The World Is Not Enough and End of Days took big bites off the box-office. Even then Sixth Sense grossed about $ 1.8 million, and its total exceeded $ 29 million.
East Is East, another steady hit, is in the fourth position, and approaching $ 10 million total. Experts believe Sense would end its run with $ 35 million, and that East Is East would get at least $ 12 million, making it profitable even before it begins its run in Europe and America early next year.
Worldwide Shyamalan's film has earned over $ 450 million, making it one of the most profitable ventures for Disney. It is yet to open in Germany, France, Spain and a handful of countries. A huge hit wherever it has been released, Sixth Sense is particularly big in Japan where it has made about $ 40 million, and has remained the number one hit for seven weeks. In its sixth week, its $4 million gross was bigger than the gross of the next three films combined. Japanese exhibitors believe that it could end its first run with about $ 60 million.
"Disney will have a big windfall when the film becomes available on video in the middle of next year," says film writer and analyst Ric Ornellas.
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